GMAT vs. GRE: Is the GMAT Losing Importance?

Is the GMAT on a slow decline due to some heated competition from the GRE? There have been rumors floating around for several years now that the GMAT is declining in importance, not only because of a GRE alternative but also because it doesn’t focus on finance, accounting or business strategy. Could this be true? Let’s look at the facts.

Over 1,800 graduate business schools accept the GMAT and as a whole, it’s been the standard admissions tests for business schools for the past fifty years. The GRE, on the other hand, is taken by more than 600,000 students annually and it’s good for a five-year period. Let’s not forget cost: the GMAT costs $250.00 and the GRE significantly lower at a mere $150.00 (for the US only & effectively as of July 1, 2009).

Now, when compared back to back, the GMAT is the harder exam in terms of both the reading and math sections. For native English speakers, the GRE’s reading is slightly easier, although it could be cause for alarm for non-native English speakers due to the complexity of the vocabulary. As a whole, the GMAT is used for business schools and some economic schools while the GRE is used for more general graduate degree programs.

So with all this information laid out, one can’t help but wonder – where did the controversy come from?

ETS actually lost the rights to the GMAT in 2006, so since then they’ve encouraged schools to take the GRE instead. About 115 schools have complied, including Stanford, Johns Hopkins and MIT. The GRE seems to have added bonuses that the GMAT doesn’t. In fact, there is a new section on the GRE called the Personal Potential Index, where a mentor can fill out sections in regards to creativity, integrity and communication. Is the general consensus among graduate school professionals that the GRE is stamping out the GMAT?

Evidently not, according to David A. Wilson, head of the Graduate Management Admissions Council, who was quoted in a recent New York Times article on the topic. “Schools turn to the GMAT because it is a valid, trusted and robust assessment. One way to think about it is that you don’t want your dentist to buy drill bits at Home Depot.”

Where does that leave us on the subject? Our general advice is the following: know what schools you want to apply to before you go about preparing for standardized tests. Know which tests your universities prefer. Keep in mind, the MBA is still accepted by all major business and economic schools around the world. If you know you want an MBA, brush up on the GMAT. However, if you are leaning more towards a general graduate degree, the GRE is probably your best bet.

To read more on the detailed comparison between two tests, please subscribe to our free Manhattan Review email newsletter and read our GMAT vs GRE Part I and GMAT vs GRE Part II newsletters.

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Posted on September 18, 2009 by Manhattan Review

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